Unlike most Spring/Summer sports that were able to get some action going at the start of their season, the WNBA was never able to set foot on the court. Now, however, months after their season was postponed, the league has spoken and has announced a plan to play in late July.
Similar to the NBA’s Disney World plan, the WNBA will be setting up a bubble environment at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Not all details have been finalized, but the league did put out a press release earlier this week with a few key details:
“Beginning in July, IMG Academy will be the home for each of the league’s 12 teams and serve as a single site for training camp, games and housing. The top priority continues to be the health and safety of players and staff, and the league is working with medical specialists, public health experts, and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place. Due to the fluid situation resulting from the pandemic, the league and players will continue to review the appropriate health and safety protocols and make necessary changes to the plan prior to arriving on site for the start of training camp and throughout the season.”
Due to the unexpectedly long delay, teams will play just 22 regular-season games instead of the 34-36 games that were approved after last season’s negotiations. Playoffs will be played under the traditional format in full to reveal a champion to end the 2020 season.
An exact date has not yet been set for a new opening night, but the league is aiming for a July 24 start. While there have been virtual meetings amongst teammates, there still is no exact date for training camp to start either.
Possibly the biggest piece of news in the restart of the sport is the fact that the league will still pay the players 100 percent of their salaries despite a shortened schedule. Paying players has been an extreme issue in all sports and still delays an MLB season at this time.
Players can opt-out of playing if they feel there is too much risk involved and if they are in a “medically high-risk” state, they’ll still receive their full salary from the league. Players who sit out without medical reasoning will not be paid their salaries.
Any WNBA basketball is positive for the sport and a positive for everyone involved. While it will most certainly be the craziest summer most of us have ever experienced, it will be relieving to see more and more sports hit their respective courts.